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Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister

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Book Overview

This description may be from another edition of this product. Gregory Maguire's chilling, wonderful retelling of Cinderella is a study in contrasts. Love and hate, beauty and ugliness, cruelty and charity--each idea is stripped of its ethical trappings, smashed...

Customer Reviews

6 ratings

Great retelling! Loved it!

I am a very big fan of fairytales and fairytale retelling. However, I'm not too big on the Cinderella story because of how much it is overplayed. But this book is definitely one of the (very few) exceptions. I really liked Gregory Maguire's writing style in here as well as the adaptation. The story follows a mother and her two daughters he have just fled their home in England and landed in their mother's hometown of Holland. Expecting to recieve shelter at the mother's family home they are disgruntled to discover that her family has died out and someone else now owns their home. They then take shelter at the home of a painter and before being welcomed in the home of a wealthy man in exchange for work and one of the daughters teaching the wealthy man's own child English. The story is told from the perspective of Iris (one of the ugly stepsisters). It was really great to see the two sisters in a more sympathetic light and to actually have personalities applied to them (more so Iris). I also actually liked the historical Holland backdrop that it was set in. The only con I have with this is that the pace was a bit back and forth. There were also plot points about kidnapping and changelings that lead to nowhere. This could have been easily cut out and it would have made no difference. And I also think that the whole "Cinderella-Prince" plot point felt a bit rushed and almost like a shoe in at the end. It wasn't even the main love story in the book (which in my opinion is actually a plus. (That love story has been played to death)). But these negatives weren't dire enough to ruin the whole story for me.

And they lived happily ever after ...

The readers of this book, that is. Gregory McGuire has hit another one out of the park with "Confessions." Following up on "Wicked," the first of McGuire's expanded fairy tales, "Confessions ..." tells the story behind the story of Cinderella. Childhood fairy tales, true to their intended audiences, tell stories of black and white, good and evil. Once we all grow up, though, we realize that the world is many shades of gray. McGuire's stories reflect that adult knowledge. That is why this story is so fun to read. I voraciously read fairy tales as a child, and McGuire has allowed me to revisit the stories of my childhood while entrancing me as an adult. His are quick reads, which is somewhat disappointing, because the end always comes too soon. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, and I will be waiting for my 'prince in shining armor' to write me another grown-up tale!

Every Bit as Good as _Wicked_!

I have to disagree with those reviewers who claim that this book is not as good as Maguire's previous novel, _Wicked_. This novel is just as good as its predecessor, but it's not as philosophical; it's more of a pleasure-read. That's not to say that _Confessions_ doesn't give you anything to think about, but I think the difference here is that the nature of beauty is something that we all think about, and discuss openly and often, whereas wickedness and evil are something we try not to think about, let alone discuss. I think this is the reason that _Wicked_ seems to be so much more powerful than _Confessions_. I found this novel to be tremendously satisfying, and it will be difficult for me to wait until Maguire writes another one.

Inventive and compassionate retelling of Cinderella

Just when you think there have been too many re-imagined versions of well-known fairy tales along comes one that brilliantly reinvents perhaps the archetype of all fairy tales. Maguire, who previously wrote a subversively political tale about the wicked witch of the west, surpasses his debut novel with this compassionate tale of beauty and familial duty. Once again his richly detailed prose captures that feeling of a once upon a time that true fairy tales require and does so without ever appearing artificial. This story of Iris and Ruth, their complex mother Margarethe, and their stepsister Clara of the 'afflicted eternal beauty' is filled with wonderfully shaded characterizations that never fall into that good/evil dichotomy that Grimm and Perault use in telling the original versions. Can kindness reside within ugliness? Is beauty and attractiveness really something to be envious of? Is a mother's apparent tyrannical household an environment that will produce wickedness? Is a nearly mute sibling nothing more than a drudge to babysit? Find the answers to these not so simple questions within Maguire's excellent story and be prepared to be reassess your own prejudices about the 'ugly' and the 'beuatiful.'

Even Better Than Wicked If You Can Believe That

Now, when I read WICKED, I thought here is an author with a voice and an interesting take on story-telling. I told everyone I knew to read it. Many did and agreed with me that it was special. Like Marion Zimmer Bradley before him (Mists of Avalon), Maguire looks at a popular myth/story and turns the point of view on its head. Now in CONFESSIONS he puts a name and personality on a face long misunderstood, the ugly stepsister. There is something so much more on target in his telling of this story than WICKED that his story here rings even more true. Maybe it's trying to do a little bit less in the book and crafting a solid tight storyline, maybe it's a more personal touch and a true love of his character, maybe it's the lack of some overarching political statement he isn't chasing down (as in WICKED). But CONFESSIONS packs a huge surge of emotion that won't leave you when you finish it. I finished it a week ago, and I'm still mulling it over in my mind. Clara reminds us of all those beautiful people out there who either think the world revolves around them or that it should. Thank you, Mr. Maguire. What's next? I can hardly wait!
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